The Spirit of Japan is the story of the Wakamatsu family, who have been making the traditional Japanese distilled spirit, shochu, at their Yamatozakura Distillery in Kagoshima Prefecture since the 1850s. We follow 5th generation toji (master brewer/distiller) Tekkan Wakamatsu (41) as he takes the traditions passed down by his father Kazunari Wakamatsu (77) and strives to adapt to a changing world. The film follows Tekkan, while he strives and struggles to balance the rigors of making handmade shochu, running the family business, and maintaining a healthy family life.
In a world of mass consumerism and commodification, the Wakamatsu family have maintained the 500 year old tradition of brewing and distilling sweet potato shochu by hand. Director Joseph Overbey and Producer Stephen Lyman lived with the family and began the project of documenting their craft in 2016. The Spirit of Japan offers a rarified and intimate cinematic portrait of shochu making and home.
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